Beldings tops West Catholic, ready for Coopersville rematch

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 3:11 pm on Thursday, October 01, 2015

Belding’s Olivia Stephan returns a serve against West Catholic at home on Tuesday. Johanna McCully (3) and Sarah Brownell, right, are there to provide support. Daily News/Bruce Bentley

BELDING — Playing the first varsity game of Belding’s 5th annual Pink Week, the Redskins volleyball team put on a stellar display.

On Tuesday, the Redskins pieced together three solid sets to defeat O-K Blue rival Grand Rapids West Catholic. The win sets up another showdown with three-time defending league champion Coopersville on Thursday.

Belding opened with a 25-19 win and finished out with 25-13 and 25-15 wins to sweep the Falcons.

“It’s always kind of an emotional night and you never know how that is going to play in,” Belding coach Mikayla Linebaugh said. “We always try to focus what we are playing for and the bigger things out there.”

Linebaugh credited her team’s tempo, which was quick and efficient.

“That’s a good team (West Catholic). They have a lot of depth on the bench and they went to it,” Linebaugh said. “I just thought we kept the tempo going. We had a few little bubbles, but just kept on. We didn’t focus on it and I thought our tempo was awesome.”

With game one tied 8-8, the Redskins went on a 6-0 run to open a 14-8 lead. The first game was competitive, but it seem like Belding won every long rally to take the steam out of the Falcons.

Belding’s Johanna McCully taps the ball over the net for a point against West Catholic on Tuesday. Daily News/Bruce Bentley

“When you work, work, work and don’t get the point, it kind of takes the wind out,” Linebaugh said. “We practice hard and we play hard. We have some fun and that mix is what is important. They get along so well and this is a great group of girls to coach.”

West Catholic battled to within 20-17, but Belding finished the game on a 5-2 run to win.

Belding lost the first point of game two, but won the next nine to take a commanding lead over West Catholic.

Junior Johanna McCully, who had 10 kills on the night, sparked the early rally with some hard hits. Olivia Stephan and Greta Wilker added to the attack up front.

“Brooke (Linebaugh) does a nice job of moving them up and down the net so they (West Catholic) doesn’t know where we are coming from,” Linebaugh said. “My hitters are smart. Olivia is getting up and over, Greta tips a lot and Johanna hits so hard.”

West Catholic trailed 13-8 when the Redskins finished off game two on a 12-5 run.

Game three was similar to game two as Belding opened an 11-3 lead and was never really threatened in the final game.

Brooke Linebaugh had 24 assists. Stephan added eight kills, while Wilker had 17 digs. Sarah Brownell had 12 digs, three aces and two blocks.

Belding (21-1-1, 4-1 in the O-K Blue) will travel to Coopersville on Thursday. The Broncos handed the Redskins their only loss in a thrilling five-set match on Sept. 2.

“We are right there,” Linebaugh said. “I think we’ve grown a lot on how to finish and how to play through those types of things. I’m expecting a good outcome on Thursday.”

Pink Week raises money for the B Foundation, which has raised more than $300,000 and raises awareness and benefits families in the Belding Community touched by cancer.

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